From waste to fertilizer: Nutrient recovery from wastewater by pristine and engineered biochars

Marta Marcińczyk, Yong Sik Ok, Patryk Oleszczuk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Biochar application for the recovery of nutrients from wastewater is a sustainable method based on a circular economy. Wastewater, food wastewater, and stormwater are valuable sources of nutrients (i.e., PO43−, NO3, and NH4+). The unique properties of biochar, such as its large specific surface area, pH buffering capacity, and ion-exchange ability, make it a cost-effective and environmentally friendly adsorbent. Biochar engineering improves biochar properties and provide targeted adsorbents. The biochar-based fertilizers can be a sustainable alternative to traditional fertilization. The aim of the study was to compare the potential of pristine and engineered biochars to recover nutrients from wastewater and to determine the factors which may affect this process. Engineered biochar can be used as a selective adsorbent from multicomponent solutions. Adsorption on engineered biochar can be also regulated by additional mechanisms: surface precipitation and ligand/ion exchange. Metal modification (e.g. Mg, Fe) enhances PO43− and NO3 adsorption capacity, and thus may provide the extra plant macro-/micronutrients. The desorption mechanism, which is the basis for nutrient release are strongly pH depended. The use of biochar-based fertilizer can have economic and agricultural benefits when using waste materials and reducing pyrolysis energy costs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135310
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Center (Poland) under the SHENG 1 grant [grant number UMO-2018/30/Q/ST10/00060 ].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • Biochar
  • Circular economy
  • Fertilizer
  • Nutrients recovery
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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